PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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Space, Place, and Religion Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit is a forum for exploring religious sites and the spatial dimensions of religions. We feature ethnographically-informed studies of living sites, historically-informed studies of texts and artifacts, and analyses of architecture and landscape. Our work seeks to shed light on the role of space and place in religious traditions and communities or to examine religious activity (performance, ritual, and practice) in spatial contexts.

This Unit recognizes that spaces and places, real and imagined/visionary, are constitutive elements in religious life; it is dedicated to investigating how they contribute to contemplative, ritualistic, artistic, economic, ethnic, or political aspects of religious life using a variety of approaches and methods. We expect to include at least one session focused on spaces and places in Asia, in addition to sessions focused on other themes, regions, traditions or advancing the theoretical analysis of space and place.

Call for Papers: 

We welcome individual papers, papers sessions, and roundtable proposals for topics exploring space and place as they relate to religion. We are particularly interested in papers and sessions that employ theoretically or methodologically self-conscious and innovative approaches to understanding space and place as they relate to, condition, and constitute aspects of religious life including: belief, ritual, meaning, aesthetics, and experience. We also welcome ethnographically-informed studies of sites and historically-informed studies of texts that shed light on the role of space and place in religious traditions. We desire to have one session focusing on religious spaces in Asia. This year we particularly interested in sessions on the following topics:

● The Space of the State -
How does spatial theory help to think through the entanglements of the state with historically sacred landscapes and places, and ways that the state sanctifies the nation itself as sacred space? Please contact Joanne Waghorne (pwaghor@syr.edu) with a short description of your proposal if interested in submitting.

● Destroyed Places: Spatialization of the Aftermath -
When communities reconceptualize spaces in the aftermath of destructive events (natural or otherwise), what role does religion, morality, or actionable ethics play?

Borders, Boundaries and the Making of New Space(s) (Co-sponsored with Religion and Cities Unit) -
Theorizing the role of borders, boundary/border walls and other kinds of interstitial spaces in sites of conflict, especially in the creation and resolution of inclusions, exclusions, and conflicts around the border.

● Space, Place & Environmental Jurisprudence: The Shifting Legal Status of Sacred Sites -
What happens when sacred sites or features of the landscape become legal persons or receive legal designations that complicate their status? How do religious communities respond, and how might we productively theorize such phenomena?

● Gender, Power, Place -
Explores how gender, power, and space/place intersect in ways that affect the production, maintenance, redistribution, loss, etc. of power (social, political, ritual, etc.) or space/place. Potential topics could include women arranging ritual space to increase political influence; relying on powerful social connections to enforce/remove gender divides in sacred spaces; etc. Please contact Matt Mitchell (mmitchell@allegheny.edu) with a short description of your proposal if interested in contributing.

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee